Throughout the pandemic, ASTMH has worked in coalition with other advocacy groups in the U.S. and globally to promote vaccine equity. Without equity for vaccines, as well as other medical supplies needed to treat and prevent COVID-19, there will continue to be unconscionable disparities and the world will not be safe from COVID-19. Vaccine equity is a multi-faceted problem that requires a multi-faceted solution. The U.S. and others must share more vaccines but also must contribute to manufacturing in low- and middle-income countries. Entities such as COVAX need to operate efficiently and government programs such as USAID need reality-based funding to help provide vaccines, and, just as importantly, to help ensure that countries can get the vaccines out the door, etc. There are also considerations around patent and IP waivers, good manufacturing assistance, WHO operations, all of which need at least robust discussion despite no easy answers.
There are many efforts in the global health advocacy community to get vaccines as quickly as possible to people around the world and to influence U.S. actions to help facilitate this. As part of advocacy coalitions, ASTMH participates in discussions to strategize about influencing the U.S. in this area and the Society participates in meetings with U.S. officials. ASTMH has signed on to community letters on the issues, including letters about U.S. dose sharing and manufacturing needs outside of the U.S. and Europe.
We always encourage ASTMH members to reach out to their elected officials on issues and we urge you to do so on the issue of vaccine equity. August is an ideal time for this outreach. Members of Congress will be back in their home districts for a number of weeks. Request a visit with your Representative or Senator. If that doesn’t feel comfortable right now, email or call the local office. To look up your Representative go to https://www.house.gov/
and enter your zip code in the upper right-hand corner. That will take you to information about your Representative. Your elected officials will be very interested in meeting with you because 1) you are a constituent and 2) you have a level of scientific credibility that is of interest particularly right now.